Neighbours exchange potatoes

'Potato Mondays' are saving energy right here in Waltham Forest!

Published: 23 February 2023
Filed under: Climate change

Walthamstow resident Adam Walters launches community carbon saving initiative.

Adam, who lives near Lloyd Park, has started a scheme with a group of neighbours to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions.

Adam said, “Central government are simply moving too slowly to act on climate change. We need everyday  people to start changing their habits right away. I tried to think of a way that we could reduce carbon emissions in our area and teamed up with a neighbour who was also interested in creating a greater sense of community in our local streets.”

To get things started, Adam created a Facebook page and a WhatsApp group called ‘CULE Zone’ (Community Ultra Low Emissions Zone). These forums allowed people to post practical ideas for collectively reducing carbon emissions at a local level.

This led to the creation of ‘Potato Mondays’. Instead of firing up multiple ovens, the people in the group alternate cooking jacket potatoes for everyone else on Monday evenings. The weekly chef then delivers the potato to all neighbours who put in a request via a shared Google doc.

The benefits of this oven-sharing scheme are threefold:

Saving on energy bills

Using an electric fan oven for an hour costs £1.04, under the latest price cap. By sharing one oven for five jacket potatoes on rotation, each person’s energy bill is reduced. That means cooking five potatoes in five ovens could cost more than £5, significantly more than cooking all five in a single oven. In a year, Potato Mondays could save these neighbours £200 (£40 each).

Alternatively, you can use a microwave instead of an oven for many meals, including jacket potatoes. The cost of using a microwave is estimated to be £0.05, as it will take less time than an oven to cook.

Carbon saving

Equally, each oven has its own individual carbon cost. If one oven can be used instead of five, the overall carbon emissions are reduced.

Adam and his neighbours have focused on potatoes so far as they are so easy to prepare and can provide the basis of any meal - vegetarian or otherwise - but the idea of sharing ovens could be extended to anything people want to cook.

Creating a sense of community

The residents who are taking part in this scheme are not only enjoying the financial and environmental benefits but are also enjoying doing this together.

Adam said, “It’s such a simple idea but it works as a quantifiable way to reduce our neighbourhood’s carbon emissions. The more people who take part, the less carbon is emitted. It’s so easy to set up and I’d love to see more communities start their own schemes. We are saving on our energy bills, reducing carbon emissions and fostering a sense of community - what’s not to like?”

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